A little Crayola love

As a mom, part of the joy of toy-shopping is dreaming of all of the quiet time said toy will buy you.  Usually that amounts to about 7.5 minutes, which is excellent in toy-time.

But then my daughter got this Giant Inflatable Easel for her birthday and it keeps her busy for hours at a time:

She stands out there and paints and paints one abstract masterpiece after another (FYI – above image is not my daughter or her artwork or my yard – see, no weeds!).  But, a word of warning, never refer to your child’s artwork as playing.  I offhandedly told my son that I was going to do something while they played and Samantha spun her head around, gave me one of her patented dirty looks and yelled, “I NOT PLAYING!  I AM WORKING!!!” and promptly returned to her work without giving me a second glance.

I will not lie, masterpieces such as this do not come off with a simple spray of the hose.  I have to scrub it with some dish soap and a sponge and at times resort to my cure-all, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  But even if it sometimes takes about 10 minutes to wash off, it is totally worth it.

There is little I wouldn’t do for an hour of uninterrupted play time and if that play time is outside and creatively focused, so much the better!

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Resolution – Update 1

Last week, I mentioned my intention to set aside 30 minutes each day for purposeful “me time”.  I will start out by saying, I didn’t do it.  But I think it has been a successful week anyway.

Each day, I thought about how I would schedule in that half hour.  I came up with lots of ideas:

  1. Wake up before the kids to ensure I was still awake enough to appreciate the time – the problem was, I wasn’t…awake that is.  I kept sleeping through it.
  2. Leave the family and take the alone time – I am sure I will be thrilled to do this sometimes, but this week, I liked my family.  I have been traveling a lot lately and I missed the husband and children.
  3. Stay up late to read or work on my book – Again, too damn tired, which has always been my downfall, hence my first plan.

But I definitely feel one thing changing this week – Each day I thought about myself and doing something just for me – something I and most moms (I think) often neglect to do.  And in doing that, I realized a couple of things:

  • Nothing and no one is stopping me from having me time, except for me.  I could get up earlier, I could drink more coffee and stay up later, I could go out or escape.  I could ask for more help.  I just don’t.
  • It’s not about time or energy.  It’s about my mindset.

So I think I purposely set aside time for myself once this week so far when the kids were busy playing and I have some “me time” coming up tonight when my husband will be taking the kids to the doctor.

But every day I did something for myself.  I made myself a dinner that I knew only I would eat, I actually made myself lunch (rather than feeding the kids and ignoring myself as I usually do), I really enjoyed a glass of wine, I read a book, I worked on my book a little, and lastly, I threw myself into cooking delicious dinners for the family (tonight part of my “me time” will consist of making grilled pork chops with homemade BBQ sauce and cheddar bay biscuits).

And I think my mood is much improved as a result.  I do plan to continue to try to carve out this time for myself and to keep you guys posted on how it’s working.  If I forget to post, please remind me, because if I am forgetting to write about it, chances are I am also forgetting to do it and feeling stressed and resentful as a result.

A CPSI Resolution

I spent this week at CPSI in Atlanta.  As it says on its website “The Creative Problem Solving Institute is like no other conference.  It is a hands-on learning experience that allows you to think differently…”  And I agree.

Never before I have been in a room with so many creative thinkers from so many walks of life.  Never before have I Sufi danced (not sure that shall happen again, but we will see).  Never before have I sat around with a bunch of adults and made puppets out of paper bags, created towers out of sheets of paper, communicated without talking to decide what sound should represent a color or pretended to be a rabid squirrel.

But that is CPSI.

I went for work and I think I got a lot of professionally applicable tips and ideas for new techniques.

However, I think I got more out of it on a personal level.  I can’t say for sure whether it was the conference or just the act of escaping from my normal life, and having some time to myself.  Nonetheless, I am happy I went.

I worked on my book more in those three days than I have in the past 6 months.  I am actually excited about it again.

I talked to lots of interesting people and I even danced.

And I worked on a creative problem with a room full of strangers – how to better manage my personal time.  With everyone’s help, I realized it wasn’t so much an issue of time, as much as my attitude.  I needed more time for myself in my daily life, so that I could feel happier and more fulfilled.  I suspect that will result in better relationships with my kids and my husband.  And when I am happier, I have more energy, which should help with my laundry piles and my dirty dishes, etc.

With that in mind, I have decided to give myself 30 minutes of purposeful “me time” everyday.  It doesn’t have to be productive, but it has to be a decision, not me falling on the couch staring at the TV at the end of the day, when I am too tired to think, never mind enjoy the time.

I tried to wake up early this morning for my “me time”, but I was too tired to wake up early.  0 for 1.  Perhaps, tonight or tomorrow will work out better.  I will keep you posted on my progress.

Pinatas – Good clean fun or pure insanity?

There is little kids love more than a pinata full of candy and cheap toys.  They come running for it, like you’ve promised them gold.

I remember when I was a kid, and sometimes even now, some (very brave) adult would blindfold each child and hand him/her a bat and let them swing literally blindly at this thing until it broke, sending candy and all the kids all over the ground.

But, what?  A blindfold and a bat1?!?!?  Whose great idea was this?  These kids can barely walk in a straight line without falling over at this age and we are going to trust them with a bat?  When they are blinded?

So now, I still get the kids a pinata, but instead of letting them beat at it and possibly each other, there are these little ribbons to pull.  Does it ruin some of the fun and anticipation?  A little, but there are no permanent pinata injuries (some people are literally scarred for life).

Thoughts?

Pre-trip guilt trips

I am sitting in the airport waiting to begin a six day business trip…on a Sunday. Usually when I leave on a Sunday I try to do it later in the evening but I have a client to meet with tonight and a lot of material to review and a 12 hour day tomorrow so I decided I needed to get in early enough to get some sleep.

The kids slept over grandmas house last night because Chris and I had broadway show tickets that were purchased months and months ago. They didn’t arrive home until 12pm so I was literally counting the hours I could spend with them before I had to leave…4 hours. Samantha of course decides that for these 4 hours daddy is her absolute favorite person and they had to work in the basement together. Danny was owed some wii time so he busied himself with that. Luckily he was eager to let me play with him so he could scold when my skills fell below his expectations.

Then it was time to leave and he flipped the fuck out like he hasn’t done since he was two, crying that he only wants to hang out with his mommy!! Like I didn’t feel bad enough missing his last week of preschool. He spent the first ten minutes of the airport trip begging me to stay. (Samantha kindly suggested I get a car to pick me up by the way.) Then I remembered that angry birds in space released the donut board and the crying stopped….at least until we got to the airport and I took my phone back.

Somehow that round of crying didn’t make me feel as bad. I know the iPad will get a lot of use tonight!